On Yer Bike...

[Listening to: The Lonely Shepherd - Zamfir - Kill Bill, Vol. 1]

Riding to work this week my path seems to have been blocked almost daily, but for all the right reasons. On Monday I had a pleasant if dusty wait whilst a shepherd took his sheep out to pasture in Batteria Nomentana, an area of open land I cross, and last night I skidded to a halt when I found this herd of horses crashing around in a small wood at the start of my ride home. I also got chased twice by the same stray dog (who both times looked as if he wanted to take a bite out of my ankle), and bumped into the shepherd coming home again one night. He always says hello after an incident last year when I saved a lamb he'd lost. Quite what I was thinking when I jumped of my bike after seeing the poor little thing curled up beside the track I don't know, but it all worked out in the end, even if I discovered that the only Italian I knew for lamb was for the cooked kind.

All pictures taken with my Philips key ring camera / USB key.

Riding to work is something I've been doing for years, in Rome and before that in London and Sydney.European Mobility Week or International Car Free Day (the website does have somewhat of an identity crisis) seeks to get more people out of their cars and on to other forms of transport. Of course that presumably doesn't apply to Rome, as it isn't listed as one of the participating cities. In fact Italy has only 5 participating cities, pretty pathetic compared to Austria, where 157 cities are taking part, or Spain where 198 cities are involved. The website lists amongst the reasons to get on your bike

"You therefore keep in shape and save time: amongst other things, you avoid waiting at traffic lights...."
Well, speaking personally, I still stop at traffic lights for the small parts of my journey when I'm on the road. I realise that for many cyclists traffic lights are thought to be for motor vehicles only, and that here in Rome traffic lights have even less sway, and are considered by many motorists to be entirely optional, but I stop. I figure if I want other road users to treat me with respect, then I should obey the rules of the road just like them. Or here in Italy, just like some of them. I'm lucky, most of my journey is cross country, which is pretty remarkable here in Rome. Of course, I'm sure what they meant to say was that you might spend less time at traffic lights. I once got run off the road in Sydney by a chap in a BMW who I had cycled past at no less than 5 traffic lights. He was obviously pretty frustrated.

Of course I shouldn't be telling you horror stories like this, and to be fair they are a rarity. At the moment I cycle over 120km a week, and the high points far outweigh the bad. Admittedly I am extremely fortunate to be able to use shower facilities when I get to work, and I cycle cross country for the most part, and that makes it more enjoyable, but it's the little things that make it fun. In the last few weeks I've heard frogs croaking after a sudden downpour (although I couldn't for the life of me see them) and stood and watched a foal playfully nudging his mother, and had to endure traffic jams of a most unusual sort....